navigating a world which feels like gravity is working in reverse

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  • Stigma of Joblessness

    There is a chart from a Pew Survey that asked the question, “is today a good day?”.  Richer countries scored lower than poorer ones, by large margins.  A lot of countries that scored high had very high unemployment.  I think people might be happiest where they don’t have job stress and they have less stress of joblessness.  In rich countries you choose between the two.  Even if your physical needs are met, being jobless makes you an object of scorn.  In poorer countries employment is so low that there is a critical mass of people not working which makes for much less stigma.

  • the system is no longer just

    Comment I posted on Reddit thread how millennials are checked out of work:

    People are just wising up. In America religion was a catalyst to getting employees to put their nose down and work hard and employers (at their best) would agree to treat their employees justly. But in the last 40 years employers have tried to milk this for all it’s worth without holding up their end of the bargain. It worked for a while but eventually employees wised up and started working like they were disposable. And more recently the younger generation is dropping out of religion like flies because for them there has never been a time where the social contract was more than a piece of paper.

    People seem to forget that you only reap what you sow.

    The system will bend over backwards to get us to believe it is just.  This is because if we believe the system is just then we’ll feel a lot worse when we go up against it.  I was brought up Christian and to believe the system was just.  And it was more just when my parents were growing up, in the early 80’s a church my dad worked at even paid international airfare to get my eyes checked every six months while they were in Honduras.  But my experience after 2000 is the Christian and secular system is no longer just.  But because I was brought up to believe the system was just I feel worse going up against it than I probably should.  I know the upcoming generation won’t and I’m happy for them.

  • On Prayer Working

    One can ask am I taking this bike ride to get me somewhere or am I taking it to get some exercise.  One is doing both simultaneously but is usually focused on one or the other.  In the same way it is helpful to tease out the components of prayer, the spiritual and the kinetic.  The prayer is a spiritual action but may be priming you to do some good that couldn’t come about by appeal to the divine (because God can’t counter free will).  For example prayer for a job.  When you pray for a job you are asking free will to be preempted.  The only way the prayer can be answered is the person being primed to help and work connections.

  • Getting a Job

    The conventional means of getting a job will almost never work for those on the spectrum:

    Unless you’re lucky and land a job right out of school your employment history is likely not going to have contiguous periods of full-time employment.  When you apply online to jobs, resumes without contiguous periods of full-time employment get winnowed out right away, usually by the software itself.  If they can’t tell you may get a phone interview where they will ask you more directly about your employment history.  Keep in mind hundreds, if not thousands, of people are applying for the same job as you so they can be picky.

    Assuming you do land an interview your chances are generally dead on arrival.  Within the first minute of a job interview the interviewer has decided whether you are worth hiring.  I had someone who is now a CEO tell me this and read it in a prominent marketing book Selling the Invisible.  People call this “trusting their instinct”.  And naturally this “instinct” is informed by their prejudices.  If you are on the spectrum they are going to sense something is off about you right away.  They’ll rationalize that you aren’t a good “cultural fit”, a political correct way of saying they only hire neurotypicals and generally people just like them.

    What about unconventional means?

    What they generally mean by this is networking.  Never eat alone, always be having lunch with someone who is high status that can advance your career.  The problem is, networking is the thing those on the spectrum are very poor at.  This is particularly true because, in my experience, the high status people are the ones the most rejecting of those on the spectrum (or anyone different for that matter).  I can carry on a conversation with an Uber driver or an accounting major fine but anyone high status will be cold and shut down.

    What can companies do to hire more people on the spectrum?

    They can realize that the only word that means anything to us is PLACEMENT.  Teaching us interview skills is like teaching someone how to go up against an AK-47 with a butter knife.  If companies are truly serious about diversity hiring they’ll designate a point person that people far from privilege can go to to circumvent the traditional resume/interview process (someone on the spectrum applying online with a less than stellar employment history will just get their resume thrown out by the software).  I know this seems unfair but it’s also unfair that so many people on the spectrum with skills and smarts languish un or underemployed.

  • Working Class Retreat from Church

    Finding that less educated people’s church attendance has dropped off more than their more educated counterparts:

    In the 1970s, a new study finds, half of white Americans with a high school education attended church at least monthly. Now only 37 percent do. In contrast, 46 percent of highly educated white Americans attend church, only a 5 percent drop from the 1970s.

    Lack of a steady job might also cause people to shy away from a church community, Wilcox said.

    No shit Sherlock.  I have firsthand experience of being treated badly at a church for not having a job.  People aren’t shying away from the church community, the church community is ostracizing them.  We aren’t leaving the church so much as the church is leaving us.

  • Sizing Someone Up

    Great tool for sizing someone up.  Breaks social class down to components.  I’m high on the education level for having a B.S. but that’s about it.

    This tool is great for those of us on the spectrum who may not be privy to social cues (I wasn’t in high school).  Of specific interest is the first gauge of occupation prestige.  A lot of my hunches were confirmed (like doctors being highest and blue collar things being lower).

  • Discouraged Worker Article

    Really good article on discouraged workers:

    Those silences significantly trouble me because of their ethical implications. Two of the twentieth century’s most important philosophers — Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas — argued that communicative reciprocity is what makes us human. To not respond to someone’s “call” is to deny the other’s being; to relate to an “I” as an “It,” it to treat a fellow human being like a mere object. Job applicants may appear as disembodied data points to managers, but we are decidedly human; acknowledging that fact by not ignoring us is the least potential employers could do to stop contributing to worker discouragement.

  • no happy medium for work

    Article on the wellness culture and overwork:

    We’re working longer hours than ever before, and as our employment conditions continue to worsen, they’re simply repackaged into a new version of normal in an effort to make the truly pathological state of many of our workplaces appear acceptable. And despite the fact that the very best evidence we have about the causes of work stress and burnout point to factors present in the workplace rather than in us, the stress reduction industry and the helping professions’ focus on individual self-care strategies is at an all-time high.

    An intractable problem for me has been never getting over my closest friend from college dropping out of my life due to me being low status.  It’s strange how most of the thoughts of things in my past have lost their teeth (ability to harm me) but this one hasn’t.  I can’t work 70 hours a week like John.  And because of this I’m relegated to spotty consulting that doesn’t “count” as work with John or anyone else who is working full time (which supposedly means 40 hours per week but in practice means 60 or 70).

    All the bullshit and cognitive tricks in the world won’t make this go away.  Of course it is the strongest when I’m doing work that doesn’t “count” as work because it isn’t in an office.

    time heals some wounds
    but infects others

  • learn

    The skills you need to succeed in this economy you often cannot learn from books.

    The two skills I need to be marketable:

    1. WooCommerce (an e-commerce plugin for WordPress website) product listing and single product page customization.
    2. Responsive Web Design

    There are a few books on the latter but the former can only be learned by googling around and even then the information is very arcane and sparse.

    Everyone crows about how “education” will solve our problems.  It won’t because a lot of what you learn is obsolete in the span of a year or two.  This is more true in programming than other disciplines but as more and more fields gets technologized one’s knowledge becomes more ephemeral.